Ultra Dengie: Southend-on-Sea

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A trip out to meet Graham Burnett at home in Westcliff-on-Sea. Travelled by train BoC to Wickford on the branch, then down the mainline to Southend Victoria. A little exploration around rainbound Southend before going on to Graham’s. I made the regular pilgrimage down the High Street to look out over the Thames Estuary from Pier Hill, then returned north via Southend library.

The Focal Point Gallery at the library was hosting two exhibitions: ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ some excellent drawings by Paul Anthony Harford; and ‘Caprona‘ by Alexandra Leykauf. Although the theme of Leykauf’s exhibition seemed to match my interests, it was the culmination of a research fellowship investigating the histories and landscapes of Essex, I found little enthusiasm at the prospect of watching 102 minutes of her video Inventing the Landscape (2018), nor the 42 minutes of another one called aerial (2018). I was interested however in the selection of her ‘finds’ from Essex museums, libraries and Archives as it included one of J.A. Baker’s annotated maps, which I’d only previously seen sections of online (‘South East England Sheet 17’, Quarter-Inch Maps of Great Britain, Fifth Series (Southampton: Ordnance Survey, 1976). Item C9 in the J.A. Baker Archives at the Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex) This one including the Dengie peninsula as seen in the image above. Visiting the gallery was also another opportunity to celebrate their championing of Radical Essex.

After catching some of Star Trek TOS at Graham’s while idly chatting, we proceeded through the rain to Chalkwell Hall for a poetry recital by Adrian Green at Metal Culture, where we bumped into Ron Bates. After that we trudged through the rain again to Springfield Allotments, observed general flooding, and quickly dispatched ourselves to the West Road Tap for a couple of pints of Yakima Gold (Crouch Vale Brewery, abv 4.2%, US Amarillo hops) before retiring back to Rayleigh Avenue for some food courtesy of Deb. I joined Graham at the Railway Hotel briefly for ‘Think Global, Drink Local’ (formerly Transition Drinks) before shooting off to get the last connecting train before the dreaded bus replacement.

Maps used:

OS Sheet 17 – South East England – J.A. Baker annotated copy


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